Student accommodation in the UK
The United Kingdom is one the most popular destinations for international students who wish to pursue higher education abroad. It is home to numerous prestigious and highly ranked universities like University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, London School of Economics, University College London, King’s College and many more.
Furthermore, it has breathtaking natural beauty and a rich heritage in arts, literature, music and culture. As a multicultural country, it is also appealing to students who find it easier to settle in with the present diversity.
While it is a great place to study, completing higher education in the UK can be costly. After the tuition fee, the cost of accommodation is the most significant expense borne by students, which is why it is important to know what options are available and how they all compare to each other in various parameters.
Here is a list of student accommodation options in the UK, along with the pros and cons they each offer:
On campus dorms
All universities in the UK offer on-campus accommodation to its students. These dorms, also known as halls of residence, are available to local as well as international students.
While there are a limited amount of rooms available, first year students are generally given preference and can always be allotted a dorm room. Depending on the university, rooms offered would be single or double occupancy, either with or without attached bathrooms and halls.
If a student wants to opt for this accommodation type, they have to inform the university before a given deadline so that a room can be reserved for them.
- Opting for on-campus accommodation means you don’t have the hassle of looking at other places and finding a suitable place.
- Dorms come with basic furniture such as a bed, desk, chairs, etc. and hence you do not need to buy big pieces of furniture.
- Since the residence is managed by the university, you get extra support in case of any issues or emergencies.
- For international students, on-campus living is a great way to socialise with batchmates and make new friends.
- If you opt for double occupancy, you do not get the choice of roommate and would have to share with whoever is assigned.
- Students must book a room well in advance and if you miss the deadline then there won’t be any available for you.
- This accommodation can be costlier than cheaper options like renting a flat or a shared house.
Similar to on campus dorms, these are large dorms with a communal kitchen where students can cook their own food. These halls are also managed by the university. Self-catered halls are hugely popular since they give students the freedom to cook whenever they want and eat at leisure. Furthermore, self-catered halls are convenient and affordable, while also being safe for students.
- The communal kitchen allows students freedom to cook and not be dependent on going out or ordering in.
- Since most students here would be international, it is a great way to meet new people and socialise even outside your batch.
- Students learn to manage the hall like a house and therefore can get experience being independent and self-reliant.
- Since it is a communal living space, it might become noisy and messy, making it hard to adjust to.
- Students can’t decide who they live with and therefore can end up with people they do not get along with.
Rented flats or houses
This is also an extremely popular choice for international students, especially after they enter the second or third year of university and are more familiar with the city and its people. Rented accommodations are basically either individual or sharing flats or shared houses where one or multiple students live together and split the expenses. This is a popular option for those that want more freedom and affordability.
- Students have complete freedom of choosing where and with whom they want to live and can therefore choose to stay with their friends.
- There is more freedom of movement since there are no rules, except for the tenancy agreement, meaning there is no supervision.
- This option is more affordable than the previous ones, since students can opt to live in a flat that matches their budget.
- Students can choose to either live alone or with other people, depending on their needs.
- Finding a flat that matches your needs can be a tough job and might require you to look for a while.
- Unfurnished flats might need you to buy furniture and therefore increase costs overall.
- There is no external support and you have to be responsible for the home all by yourself.
In case students wish to experience their life abroad more fully or want to opt for the comfort of a home during their stay, they can opt for the homestay option. In this accommodation type, the university inspects and approves certain local families who are willing to host students. The international students can choose their host family and stay with them in their home, as a guest.
- Students get extra welcoming support, especially in the first year when they might feel isolated.
- Students can enjoy the comfort of a home, along with home cooked meals.
- Students can experience the country’s culture more fully and deeply by immersing themselves.
- It might be hard for students to make friends, since they would not be able to spend much time with other students.
- The family home environment might seem restrictive to some, with certain rules and values to be followed.
The choice of accommodation is an important decision every international student must make after examining all options as well as their own needs and wishes. In the UK, the four main accommodation options are on-campus dorms, self-catered halls, rented flats and homestays. There is no accommodation type that can be called the best, since all have their advantages and disadvantages. While on campus options are more convenient and safe, they can be costlier than renting flats, which involves a bit of a hassle. Similarly, homestays can be great for comfort and safety, but they might get in the way of socialising and freedom.